Thursday, 29 May 2014

With A Little Help From My Friends

Saw my shrink this morning. Bloody simple advice is often the best. So for now I am determined to do something about the thing in my life that most irks me. I'll leave you to work out what that might be.

With my mental health duly dealt with I set off to Fairlawns and thrashed my way through 35 lengths of the pool. Inelegant but effective. Then I went and got my hair cut. More inelegance - number 2 all over, tapered at the back. Finally I prepared a self-righteous salad for my lunch. Actually not finally, because I next continued the process of decorating Bert's old room. Perfectly Taupe. Has anyone ever knowingly seen imperfect taupe?

Tonight I am going to watch some baseball on ESPN on the unjust basis that I deserve a treat for being such a good boy today.

See you.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Little Prince

I'm such a cool cat. Not content with having seen Muse, Sharon and I saw Prince at the NEC the week before last. We had seen him before, twenty plus years ago. He remains good value for money if not quite up there with Muse or Springsteen.

It was an old fashioned sort of show, not a lot of lights or effects, just the man himself, his all female band and stacks of speakers. Groovy man.

On a rather different tack I am still getting over a tremendous weekend in Cardiff for the ERC finals - Northampton v Bath in the Amlin on Friday and Toulon v Saracens in the Heineken on Saturday. The only bum note was the empty seats in evidence at the Heineken final. Plaudits to the estimable JRS who organised everything in habitual meticulous fashion.

Despite a singular lack of respect for any of the parties represented on the ballot paper I made the effort to vote last Thursday. And do you know what, in the midst of a crappy week the simple process of marking a cross in a box uplifted me. That is where I shall leave it  because any sober (or indeed drunken) analysis of our wretched political class will only make me all sad again. As Churchill sort of said, democracy is the least bad system available.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

As Seen On TV

We tend nowadays not to watch anything at the time it is broadcast, instead utilising the numerous catch-up and on-demand services. As a reviewer this habit places me a step away from the zeitgeist but hey ho I'm not going to let that stop me inflicting some opinion upon you. I will consider five programmes in ascending order of artiness. And bear in mind that artiness is not of itself always a good thing - we need look no further than the BBC's recent risible Jamaica Inn.

First up is The Crimson Field. Now this is decent dramatic schlock which really rather wants to be high art. You can play spot the WW1 cliche as you watch it - snobbish upper class officers, Irish republicanism, self-inflicted wounds and even a bit of the love that dare not speak its name. But despite this predictability you have to say it's rather well done and perfectly watchable. Just please don't tell me to take it all that seriously.

bonkers but fun
Next in line is the daft, over-egged but magnificent 24. Our hero Jack Bauer murders his way through each episode in selfless defence of truth, justice and the American way. Bonkers but fun. Just please don't let it shape your world view. At least not your entire world view.

Slightly less bonkers but riddled with mounting implausibilities we are finally getting into the second series of Homeland. Superior television which I place on an equal pedestal with a bit of Scandinavian crime in the shape of The Bridge. Saga Noren is a terrific dramatic creation.

Next, very nearly the best thing I've seen on television for ages and which I've mentioned before in this blog - True Detective. Now I've called Jamaica Inn risible so I have to be careful here because the charge of indecipherability can be levelled at True Detective also. However this series had the heft to carry its artistic pretensions with it, rather than merely alienating the viewer.

the sainted Tom Hollander
Finally the actual very best thing I have seen on television for ages. The final episode of Rev. Poignant, clever and as good an argument as you will find for the licence fee. I won't spoil it in case you haven't seen it yet in which case watch out for it in the future. The whole series is laudable but the climax is really rather clever and beautiful. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Ballad Of Iron Mike

you want to be where everybody
knows your name
So it is night three of the Dunmore odyssey and we now encounter the world's greatest bowl of sea-food chowder. As any fule kno this is served at the Haven Hotel in Dunmore East. It is a meal in itself but real men use it as the warm-up act to the King Rib and then finish off with a slab of gateau. Jason the bartender also does a very mean Bloody Mary.

Now I must introduce you to the fourth member of the team. Big Willy and ViperJohn you have met before but our usual teammate, PJ had other commitments this year. Thus did Iron Mike join us. Iron Mike, the Boy Michael, Mikey B. We shall draw a veil over his golf but it suffices to say that he was a model member of our team. That is shorthand for, he was shit. But one does not judge a man by his golf in Dunmore, one judges him by his conduct at table and at bar - and Iron Mike was a star. What other partner in a major accountancy firm would decide to dry his golf glove in the oven and absent-mindedly incinerate it? I love the smell of burning leather in the morning.

Day three meant a damp round at my erstwhile nemesis Faithlegg. Too much walking between holes but I have to concede that this is a good golf course. Please note that I made my only birdie of the week at the par five 10th - driver, 7 wood (yes I do know it's a girl's club), sand wedge, four foot putt. Easy peasy.  Repeated complaint - the clubhouse bar at Faith Legg seems to treat eating and drinking as peripheral activities. They are not and Faithlegg might take lessons in conviviality from the much less salubrious Dunmore East. Mine's a Guinness.

Night four and I eat too heartily of the monster fish and chips at the Spinnaker. Chronic heart burn. Good food mind.

breakfast of champions
Round four took us to Tramore. I'm relieved to say that we played the Old Course not the rather incongruous new holes. By all accounts Tramore Golf Club does not have its financial difficulties to seek - an hubristic epitome of the Celtic Tiger. Mine was a curious round of golf wherein I struck the ball quite well but made an inelegant meal of getting it into the hole. I can play considerably worse. And better.

And so the final night. A quiet one by our standards but graced by a final bowl of chowder, a Bloody Mary and some Hendrick's and tonic. Roll on next year.    

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Back To Earth With A Bump

I had a toweringly good time last week in Ireland although the chronic heartburn and general tiredness were candid reminders that I'm no longer a youngster. So to cheer myself up (which I need after a predictably crap day back at work) I am going to crank up the old brain cells and write about as much of it as I can remember.

It started with a great sporting shock as I beat Big Will Macfarlane to claim the Bull Bay Classic on Anglesey at the start of the trip. Willy magnanimously presented me with the trophy and it stands alongside the winning scorecard on the mantel-piece in Anglesey. Classic? Well hardly, I was just the least bad.

Poor old ViperJohn had to walk in after fourteen holes at Bull Bay and his health deteriorated when we got to Ireland. The Sutton Coldfield doctors were on hand ( a bad week to be ill back home since the doctors are all on the razz in Dunmore) to confirm a recurrence of his Meniere's Disease. Poor sod didn't hit a shot in anger all week and was only really on the mend by the time we came home. He wore it well. In his absence the three remaining members of team ' Not on the List' (ironically named for ViperJohn's blog) came stone cold last in the entire competition. It wasn't even close. We're so shit it's unbelievable.

not a par in sight
I ignored the old cliche about not mixing grape and grain on the first night and the dried-out husk of my golf game got a pitiless bashing from the course at Waterford Golf Club. I threw some four-putts into the mix just to make sure everyone knew how far I had fallen. Mediocrity is a distant aspiration. Funny course Waterford - a lot of holes which are placed on top of each other so that it can feel claustrophobic but it is certainly too good for me. Cracking breakfast in the top grade clubhouse although on reflection the breakfast was a meal too far for this particular soldier.

what fairway?
And so to Tuesday and a day of God-given beauty - sun dancing on the Irish Sea, a slight cooling breeze attending the soaring views from the cliff-tops of Dunmore East Golf Club. This is a young course, unfairly disparaged by some competitors. There are admittedly some prosaic holes further from the cliffs but the setting of the coastal holes is unmatchable. I'd not had quite such a heavy night in preparation this time but I still had right old attack of the shakes at the outset. Couldn't get the effing ball to stay on the tee-peg. Two points in the first six holes. Things then got better but not to a point one would identify as competent. Seventeenth, classic Dave - on in regulation and putting for a birdie, four putts later I had scored my final point of the round. I achieved a shanked chip in front of the clubhouse for my grand finale. Classic and curiously enjoyable.

Well all of the above has made me feel better but old time is on our tracks boys so I will resume the telling of the tale tomorrow. And I will introduce you to Iron Mike and the best sea food chowder in the world.